John Millar at the double as Raith knock Hibs out of Scottish Cup in 1998

Hibs v Raith Rovers.  Chris Jackson being chased by Raith's two-goal hero John Millar. Pic: Julie Bull
Hibs v Raith Rovers. Chris Jackson being chased by Raith's two-goal hero John Millar. Pic: Julie Bull

Two-goal John Millar was the unlikely hero as Raith Rovers swept aside Premier League Hibernian to move deservedly into the fourth round of the Scottish Cup.

The former Hearts man hit a deadly double within 21 minutes of this all-action tie and despite conceding a goal almost immediately after the second, Rovers held on comfortably for a famous win.

Indeed, with better fortune and a little more composure in front of goal, the margin of victory could have been far greater and would have saved the nerves of the magnificent visiting support in the final few minutes!

However, the 2000 or so Raith fans must have enjoyed their afternoon out in Edinburgh as their favourites displayed the kind of form that would not look out of place in the top league, although they were no doubt puzzled as to why the team couldn’t reproduce this kind of performance in every week in the First Division.

Hibs looked like a side in complete turmopil and their furstarted fans didn’t take long to get on their backs as Rovers turned the screw.

By the end, chants of “Duffy must go” rang round Easter Road as their patience fianlly ran out but the Hibs manager admitted afterwards that he could understand their anger.

“We were outplayed and I can’t complain about the result,” he said. “We weren’t at the races in the first half and despite a lot of possession after the break we never really threatened.

“Some of the players have to take a long look at themselves but it is me who puts the team out on the park so I have to expect stick from the fans and today it was justified.”

To be fair to Duffy, he must have hoped for a far better performance from his team but the home side were never allowed to settle by Rovers and the constant pressure exerted by Davie Kirkwood, Danny Lennon and Millar in midfield, and the composure of Kevin Fotheringham and Paul Browne at the heart of the defence, ensured that it was the visitors who were always on top.

Dargo could have claimed a hat-trick but his finishing let him down, while Paul Hartley and Keith Wright also wasted chances to put the tie beyond doubt long before the final whistle.

The only back spot on an otherwise memorable day for Raith was the dismissal of Craig McEwan with six minutes to go for a second booking and te young full back could have no real complaints after brining down Kevin Harper, as Jimmy Nicholl conceded.

“It was a daft challenge, especially so late in the game and with them just have had a man sent off but he is young and will learn from it,” the manager said.

“Paul Browne was covering Harper and there was no need for Craig to tackle but knowing things like that comes with experience and he was annoyed with himself afterwards.”

And Nicholl was not surprisingly delighted with his team’s showing.

“I really enjoyed watching us and we played well but I would have preferred not to be hanging on to just a one-goal lead for so long,” he said.

“If the third one had gone in it would have made it a lot easier for Alex and me on the bench, that’s for sure.

“The football comes naturally to these players so we concentrated on getting them to work hard for 90 minutes and ethe effort they put in had its reward.”

Rovers led after 10 minutes when a cross from Lennon bounced over Willie Miller’s head, and and namesake John was there to hook it past Reid high into the net.

In 21 minutes the Raith fans were in ecstasy when Lennon played a short corner to Kirkwood and his cross with the outside of his right foot was et on the volley by Millar at the far post for a spectacular shot.

Unfortunately, Rovers then relaxed for the only time in the game and were made to pay immediately when Pat McGinlay picked up a loose ball and strode forward unchallenged before curling a great shot round Van De Kamp from the edge of the box.

The home fans must have believed this would signal a fight back but Rovers continued to carry the more threat and the only real save Van De Kamp had to make in the game came in the 58th minute when he flung himself to his right to clutch a Shaun Dennis header.

Hibs were reduced to 10 men in 81 minutes as Darren Dods appeared to strike Wright on the back of the head as they jostled in the box and Hugh Dallas immediately sent the defender off.

A few minutes later McEwan also departed but Rovers never looked in trouble and the final whistle brought great cheers from the visiting end and some less than complimentary remarks from the home crowd.

The Raith team that day was: Van De Kamp, McEwan, Thomson, Kirkwood (Galloway 52), Browne, Fotheringham, Hartley (Stein 87), Lennon, Dargo (J.Dair 76), Wright, Millar.